Leon Constantine - Leeds United No.10

By: Lee Betteridge

Leon Constantine's first few months at Leeds United could hardly have been more frustrating, both for the player and the club. After announcing he was to leave Port Vale at the end of last season Leon was linked with a number of clubs, but agreed a contract in principle with Leeds whilst the club was still in Administration. He was one of the group of players who paid out of his own pocket to take part in the pre-season programme in uncertain times for everyone connected with the club. By the time Constantine officially signed for United on their exit from Administration, the player had incurred a complex ankle injury in the friendly at Slovan Liberec which would keep him out of the teams 13 match unbeaten league start.

The 29 year old Londoner made his first and only appearance for Millwall in September 2000. After undertaking brief loan spells at Leyton Orient and Partick Thistle he moved to Brentford in August 2002. But, after failing to establish himself, Leon joined Southend United a year later, and began to show his true capabilities. The 6ft 2in marksman hit 21 goals in his first and only season before rejecting a new contract and moving to Peterborough United. After only 11 games, yielding 1 goal, Constantine joined Torquay United in December 2004 for a club record fee of 75,000 pounds.

After 42 games producing 10 goals Leon was on the move once more, this time to Port Vale, where he hit a rich vein of form. Last season he became the first Vale player to hit 18 goals prior to Christmas. Despite finishing the season with 26 goals in all competitions he became a target of the boo-boys, who questioned his overall work rate. The abuse clearly affected Constantine, saying at the time, 'I have never been at a club where I have scored goals and heard the crowd boo.' He decided to seek pastures new, and Leeds boss Dennis Wise made his move.

To date Leon's career has been filled with ups and downs, success and failure in equal measure. However, his strike rate at both Southend United and Port Vale speaks for itself, 115 games producing 53 goals overall. The early season form of Tresor Kandol and Jermaine Beckford, added to the performances of the team as a whole, have reduced the pressure on the Leeds backroom staff to rush Constantine into the fray. However, he is now stepping up his training regime and his official first team debut does not look too far away, providing some healthy competition up front. League 1 run for cover, Dennis Wise is about to add another weapon to his artillery.

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